The Marijuana Overdose Response Prevention Act (also known as the MORE Act) is a bill with bipartisan origins that seeks to legalize cannabis, similar to alcohol and cigarettes. The bill, which was first introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) in the previous session, has garnered bipartisan support and has been re-introduced in the current session.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment Act (MORE) has been introduced to the United States House of Representatives to remove some of the road blocks to legal cannabis. If passed, the act would allow individuals and businesses to take advantage of federal banking laws.

The push for cannabis legalization at the federal level continues, with a reintroduced bill that would take marijuana off the national list of controlled substances and invest in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The measure, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Relief Act of 2021 (MORE Act), was signed into law on 28. Introduced in May by Representative Jerry Nadler of New York and five of his fellow Democrats.

Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill last year. The measure passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming support in December, but failed to gain support in the Senate under then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Since I introduced the MORE Act in Congress, many states across the country, including my home state of New York, have decided to legalize marijuana. Our federal laws must keep pace with this, Nadler said in a statement. I am proud to have reintroduced the MORE Act to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the unnecessary burden of marijuana convictions for many Americans, and invest in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Social equality Key to bill

Under the MORE Act, cannabis would be removed from the list of drugs covered by the Controlled Substances Act, criminal penalties for federal cannabis offenses would be eliminated, and prior cannabis-related convictions would be expunged. The bill also imposes a 5% tax on retail sales of cannabis, which would rise to 8% over three years. Proceeds from the tax will be invested in communities that have suffered from decades of federal marijuana prohibition policies.

This bill would not only end harmful federal cannabis policies that have destroyed countless lives, but it would also seek to undo that damage by providing true equality and opportunity for those who wish to enter this burgeoning industry. We are on the road to real justice, Rep. said. Barbara Lee of California, a co-sponsor of the bill and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

The MORE Act Opportunity trust fund will provide employment services, reintegration services for ex-convicts, and health education programs for communities affected by the war on drugs. According to an amendment to an earlier version of the bill, requested by social equality advocates, people with prior felony convictions would no longer be barred from participating in the cannabis industry.

Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York said the failed war on drugs began nearly 50 years ago when Richard Nixon declared drug addiction to be state enemy number one. Since then, marijuana use has become a socially accepted behavior in some areas and a criminal behavior in others. All too often, race was the dividing line between these areas. The MORE Act will help to correct this injustice and introduce the principle of freedom and justice for all.

In addition, the Office of Cannabis Justice will be established to implement the provisions of the Social Justice Act, promote cannabis research, and ensure that cannabis users are not denied federal benefits and services. The Small Business Association is charged with creating a Cannabis Opportunity Recovery Program to develop cannabis licensing programs that reduce barriers to industry participation.

Amazon on board

Following the reauthorization of the MORE Act, Amazon, the country’s second largest private employer, has announced the elimination of cannabinoid testing for job applicants for most jobs in the US. Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon, said in a blog post that the company would also push for legislation to end federal cannabis prohibition.

And because we know this issue is bigger than Amazon, our policy team will actively support the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Relief Act of 2021 (MORE Act), federal legislation that legalizes marijuana on a federal level, lifts criminal records and invests in affected communities, Clark writes. We hope that other employers will join us and that the politicians will act quickly to pass this bill.

Nadler’s bill is also supported by organizations that advocate for cannabis policy reform, including the Marijuana Policy Project. Tahir Johnson, Director of Social Justice and Inclusion, commented on the impact of cannabis prohibition on communities of color.

Cannabis prohibition and subsequent over-policing, unequal enforcement and criminalization have denied millions of black and Latino people a voice, as well as access to education, employment and housing, creating cycles of poverty and marginalization in their communities, Johnson said. The MORE Act promises to solve many of the problems caused by prohibition through the concept of equity and fairness, allowing the most affected communities to access the medical and economic benefits of the cannabis industry. This is the legalization approach our country needs.

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